While preparing yourself for the challenges of launching a new business, you may be thinking about the long hours and hard work ahead. But don’t forget to consider how your business will affect those around you.
Just like a new baby, your new business will require a lot of time and attention. This can divert your focus away from your loved ones: Unfortunately, entrepreneurs are more likely to get divorced than other groups, and many report losing friendships. But that doesn’t have to be your story.
Creating a plan to care for your most important relationships—especially during the stressful startup stage of your business—can help keep them strong. With dedication, you’ll create good habits that carry you and your loved ones through every phase of owning and running a business.
Common Sacrifices Made by Families and Friends of Business Owners
Business owners make many sacrifices, especially in the early years—and so do their friends and families.
While you invest money and put in long hours while starting up your business, your loved ones may:
- Pick up your slack on the home front.
- Deal with a strict budget and potentially higher debt.
- Spend less quality time with you.
- Suffer canceled plans so you can make time for business priorities.
- Delay milestones like buying a home or having children.
- Postpone vacations with you.
As noted by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, author of For Better or For Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families and wife of Stonyfield Farm founder Gary Hirshberg, when you start a business, you never do it alone. Your family will surely get drawn in—somehow, someway.
10 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationships as a Small Business Owner
Close relationships nurture long-term health and happiness. But as a small business owner, you’ll inevitably experience times when your work-life balance tips toward work. When that happens, it’s essential to communicate openly with your loved ones and be mindful about how you spend the quality time you do have.
Here are 10 ways to protect and strengthen the relationships you care about most, so you can enjoy them for years to come.
1. Designate time to spend together. Spontaneity may become a stranger, at least for a while. Schedule quality time to make sure it happens at times that work for everyone, so your family doesn’t feel they must constantly bow down to your schedule. Choose certain days of the week or specific times of each day to regularly connect. Your loved ones will appreciate knowing when they can expect to see you—plus, they may be your biggest stress relievers! Just make sure to be mentally present, giving them your full attention during these times.
2. Listen, even when their feedback isn’t fun to hear. Your family may have questions and complaints as you start your business. If you expect them to deal with their concerns alone, then you leave yourself out of the solution and you may give them the impression that you don’t care. Address their worries with patience. Sometimes they may simply need to vent, so make them feel heard with a supportive listening ear.
3. Give your partner time to themselves. If you have kids, chances are your partner is doing double duty. Remember that they have needs and help them recharge. Make sure your family calendar includes solo time for your partner.
4. Regularly discuss finances. While you may be comfortable with the financial risk of running your own business, your loved ones may not feel the same way. Even if they start with optimism, they may waver as they contend with the realities of business ownership. Maintain an open line of communication when it comes to money and financial issues.
5. Lay out a timeline with specific targets and goals for your business—together. Start on the same page. Create a timeline with milestones related to your business and your personal income. Sharing this will help you track your progress and decide whether the temporary sacrifices are worth it.
6. Involve your loved ones when appropriate. Getting your family engaged in your business can be a way to spend more time together and help them get more skin in the game. Just don’t let your relationship become entirely focused on your business. Use the above strategies to maintain a personal connection, too.
7. Recommit. When your closest family members agreed to beginning this journey, none of you truly knew what you were getting into. Starting a business is a decision you make and remake many times. So, as the reality of running a business grows clearer, keep checking in with each other to ensure you’re all still committed to this dream.
8. Celebrate milestones and success together. You and your family are working hard. When you’re in the pits, so are they. So when you reach a peak, you all deserve to acknowledge and celebrate the win.
9. Dream together. As a small business owner, you may strive to support your family and fund your dreams. So, don’t skimp on the dreaming! Keep everyone motivated by sharing your dreams and discussing how you can reach them.
10. Keep perspective. There will be hard times, so keep track of the good times and your future dreams. Then, when frustrations arise, you can draw on those positives.
Remember: You can’t keep your support network without supporting them back. Make sure business success doesn’t come at the expense of those you love. It’ll be much sweeter when you can share that success with them.
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